|Death a shock to Utah's Mexican community|
|Ignacio Rios Navarro » Consul praised for addressing needs of Mexican people but also reaching out to non-Mexican Latinos.|
By Tom Harvey
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
The Mexican consul to Utah and western Wyoming, Ignacio Ríos Navarro, died Monday in a Salt Lake Valley hospital after only about 7½ months in his Salt Lake City post.
Ríos Navarro, 59, died at St. Mark's Hospital at about 7 a.m. because of "medical complications,
Ríos Navarro was appointed consul in Salt Lake City in April, transferring from London.
Jorge Fierro, owner of the Rico Brand that provides catering, operates a restaurant and sells prepared Mexican foods wholesale, said the death was a shock to Utah's Mexican community. Ríos Navarro had made a favorable impression on the community despite his short time here, said Fierro.
"He was such a great guy," said Fierro, who was informed of the death when the Mexican consulate called to cancel two Christmas parties his company was to cater. "We had high hopes."
Fierro described Ríos Navarro was approachable and honest. "It's a blow to the community, to be quite honest."
Citing privacy laws, a St. Mark's Hospital spokesperson declined to comment on Ríos Navarro's death and on what he was being treated for at the hospital. She said the cause of death will be determined by the Utah Medical Examiner's Office. Citing state law, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Todd Grey said he could not comment on whether the office had conducted an autopsy.
Robert Rendon, a senior vice president at Zions Bank, also said he was shocked by the news.
"I had the utmost respect for him," said Rendon, a member of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board of directors, as well as the board of the Somos Foundation, which promotes Latino education. "He was really focused on the needs of the Mexican people."
Tony Yapias, director of the advocacy group Proyecto Latino Utah, praised Ríos Navarro for efforts to make inroads with the non-Mexican Latino community soon after his arrival in Salt Lake City.
"He was a true friend of the Latino community," said Yapias, a native of Peru. "For those of us who are non-Mexican, he reached out to us."
Ríos Navarro began his tenure in Utah on April 13. Shortly after arriving, he told reporters the consulate would be run according to regulations.
Ríos Navarro replaced former consul Salvador Jimenez, who served three years in Salt Lake City before he retired in December 2007.
Utah had about 328,000 residents of Latino origin in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those, about 75 percent are of Mexican origin, said Carlos Linares, past president of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
A lag of 14 months in appointing a new consul -- the time it took to install Rios Navarro -- would affect the Mexican community here, he said.
"This is a community that would be in dire need of someone who can work on their behalf, who can speak on their behalf," said Linares.
Ríos Navarro held various positions in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations, and had been posted as a diplomat to Venezuela, India, the Soviet Union, China, Israel and the United Kingdom before coming to Utah. He had participated as a member of various Mexican delegations in international conferences. He also was an expert in national security, according to his biography on the ministry's Web site.
Ríos Navarro was married with three grown children, who do not live in Utah, according to the consulate.
A Mass is to be celebrated at 4 p.m. today at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.
Current position: Consul of the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City
» 2004-09, Consul of the Mexican Embassy in the United Kingdom
» Worked at Mexican embassies in Venezuela, India, the former Soviet Union, China and Israel.
Bachelor's in international relations, National Autonomous University of Mexico; master's in military administration, Military and Air Forces University of Mexico
Wife, Lidia Herrera Aguilar; two sons and a daughter.
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